Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?


A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied a friend to a local trial.  She’d been charged with a violation of Montana’s Privacy in Communications statute.  Never heard of it?  Join the club.  Here is an overview of my friend’s “crime”:  Late last year, “Jane” was enduring a difficult pregnancy and was on physician-ordered bed rest when she received paperwork detailing her 8 year old son’s father’s intent to sue her for full custody.  Considering the case was filed out-of-state and the father had not once seen his son since his birth, she was understandably upset.  After leaving messages with several attorneys, she decided to call the local courthouse to ask about the legal procedures involved with such a case.  The clerk of court told Jane that she was unable to provide legal advice, but Jane assured her she wasn’t looking for any- she simply wanted to understand the process.  The clerk told her in no uncertain terms- at least four times- that she COULD NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.  Jane, sensing a communications disconnect, asked to speak with anyone else in the office.  The clerk asked if she was referring to her “boss”, to which Jane replied “well, sure… I suppose.  I’d just like to speak with someone else”.  The clerk proceeded to inform Jane that she had no boss because she was an elected official.  Considering the circumstances leading to this conversation, Jane was already rather upset and the clerk’s bully-like behavior sent her over the edge.  She asked “Am I supposed to kiss your ass because you are an elected official?”  The conversation ended soon after and Jane received a call later that day that the police would like her to drive into town to collect her citation for violation of the privacy in communications statute.  She retained an attorney and was confident the charge would disappear.  It didn’t.  After an afternoon at the courthouse, she was convicted of the charge.  She was fined $600, given ten days in jail (although suspended) and ordered to anger management classes at her own expense.  She had no criminal record whatsoever.  Although I have no idea what these officials are paid for their work, I silently began estimating the cost to taxpayers.  The judge, city attorney, clerk of court, two deputy clerks of court, and a police officer were all present for the entire trial- which lasted nearly four hours…. all to prosecute my friend.  It occurred to me that the local government was exploiting justice to justify their employment and fund the bureaucracy.

Some states, like California; are making laws to avoid jail for non-violent offenders but in Montana, selling marijuana can get you a life sentence.  Homosexuals who recruit others to become homosexuals can spend 10 years in prison for that offense.  In 1970, there were fewer than 200,000 people in jail or prison in the United States.  Currently, there are between two and three million and our incarceration rate- nearly 800/100,000 is the highest documented rate in the world.  The size and scope of criminal law- on all levels- has exploded yet the quality of the law has deteriorated.  While traditional law focused on inherently wrong behavior, today we see countless examples of economically or socially beneficial laws under the guise of “justice”.

While my friend’s behavior was not respectful of the clerk of court’s position, was it really a CRIME?  Should we feel safer knowing that Jane, instead of investing in her new business or paying off medical bills after a difficult pregnancy is paying the city court because she said the word “ass” on the phone?

An elderly orchid gardener was raided by a SWAT team after failing to obtain the proper forms and documents necessary when importing orchids.  Although the orchids were legal, he is now a federal criminal.  The United States imprisoned an elderly diabetic for two years because of paperwork inadequacies.

In another case, an elderly grandmother faced a high-profile court battle after being cited because two bushes in her yard were over two feet tall. In addition to a fine, she faced significant jail time after her bushes had grown beyond acceptable height while she battled cancer.

98% of all statistics are made up.  ~Author Unknown

In today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Mark Long, head of the state’s US Justice Department Narcotics Bureau, makes the assertion that crime in Montana is up because of medical marijuana although statistics in every other publication claims that crime rates are down.

“All marijuana used to come from Mexico and Canada,” he said. “Now it’s Montana, Mexico and Canada.”….. Mark Long

Newsflash!! California, Montana has surpassed you in quantity and quality.  It is obviously a well-kept secret considering BC, Humboldt, and other areas famous for growing cannabis have faced little challenge, from Montana the Marijuana Mecca.  It seems that Mr Long is more upset that he isn’t able to prosecute medical marijuana crimes anymore…. because they are no longer crimes.  These abuses of power are all connected. Create more laws, create more criminals.  That equals job security for Mark and his law enforcement friends.